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Ghosn denies wrongdoing in 1st court appearance 50 days after arrest

TOKYO -- Former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn denied any wrongdoing as he appeared in the Tokyo District Court on Jan. 8 in his first public appearance since his arrest 50 days earlier for allegedly underreporting his remuneration by billions of yen.

Ghosn was in court for a hearing to disclose the reason for his ongoing detention on suspicion of aggravated breach of trust, held following a request by his lawyer on Jan. 4.

This photo shows courtroom No. 425 at the Tokyo District Court before a hearing of former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn was held on Jan. 8, 2018. (Pool photo)

The former chairman was arrested in November last year on suspicion of violating the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act. He faces a number of charges, including aggravated breach of trust linked to his alleged transfer of personal investment losses to the major automaker in 2008 in violation of the Companies Act.

In a statement at the court, Ghosn said, "I am grateful to finally have the opportunity to speak publicly." He went on to say he was innocent of the accusations made against him.

"I have always acted with integrity and have never been accused of any wrongdoing in my several-decade professional career. I have been wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated accusations," he said.

People line up in front of the Tokyo District Court to attend the court hearing of former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Jan. 8. (Mainichi/Tatsuya Fujii)

Regarding the charge of violating the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act, Ghosn said that contrary to the accusations made by public prosecutors, he "never received any compensation from Nissan that was not disclosed, nor did I ever enter into a binding contract with Nissan to be paid a fixed amount that was not disclosed."

The elite businessman said he had acted "with the sole purpose of supporting and strengthening Nissan, and helping restore its place as one of Japan's finest and most respected companies."

Judge Yuichi Tada told Ghosn that the court approved his detention because "substantial reasons" were presented by prosecutors giving rise to "suspicion that the suspect, based on his testimonies, would try to destroy evidence by reaching out to relevant people."

After the hearing, Ghosn was led back into detention. His lawyer, who is poised to ask the district court to cancel his detention, held a news conference later in the day to say that his client was innocent.

Ghosn and his close aide, former Nissan representative director Greg Kelly, 62, were first arrested on Nov. 19 by Tokyo prosecutors on suspicion of underreporting some 5 billion yen in Ghosn's executive remuneration from fiscal 2010 through 2014. The two were indicted over those suspicions on Dec. 10 last year. Ghosn and Kelly were served fresh warrants on another underreporting allegation totaling some 4 billion yen from fiscal 2015 through 2017.

The charge of aggravated breach of trust stems from suspicions that Ghosn shifted about 1.85 billion yen in personal losses caused by a financial contract with Shinsei Bank, Ltd. in October 2008 to Nissan. When transferring the contract, he also allegedly sent an acquaintance from Saudi Arabia, who is said to have helped guarantee funds, a total of $14.7 million between 2009 and 2012 through a Nissan subsidiary.

(Japanese original by Kenji Tatsumi, Kazuhiro Toyama and Kim Suyeong, City News Department)

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